Fear Free Ideas for Feline Veterinary Visits
Cats are unique. We all know that. We also know that they would prefer to be napping and not on the road. Below are some ideas to help reduce your cat's stress before, during and after a veterinary visit. Remember animals use ALL of their senses at all times. We must consider the sights, the smells, the sounds, the feels the pet experiences during each visit. We hope to encourage the tastes during rewards and we consider that when medications are dispensed.
We recommend that all cats be protected during travel in a pet carrier. This is for the cats security and protection in transport as well as helping to reduce their stress. Think about the type of carrier you own. Is it big enough for the cat to get in and out easily? Can we open the carrier and access the cat without it even leaving the carrier?
We have pheromone wipes in the office available to wipe the carrier with prior to the visit. Pheromones can help by reducing the scents and masking the "stress" scents left in the carrier by the previous user.
Acclimating your cat to the carrier can be rewarding. Many cats will enter a carrier on their own if they have had the opportunity to explore it for a few days prior to transport. Feeding a cat in the carrier for a few days prior to transport can also get them used to it.
Lining a carrier with a T-shirt, towel or soft bed from home can help reduce stress as well. We can also use these to hold the pet in should they need to be restrained.
Towels, Toys, & Treats
In our office we do have towels available at all times to cover a cat carrier to reduce the sights, sounds and scents of the veterinary hospital. These towels have also been sprayed with feline pheromones to help calm the cat from the beginning. They are located under the lobby area tables.
Bringing your pet's favorite toys with you to the exam can help to relax a pet. Spending time in the exam room will help get them acclimated to the sights and smells and allowing a cat's general nature to explore can help it to reduce its overall anxiety.
We have treats available in each exam room. Sometimes cats would prefer a treat from home. Some people even bring their favorite canned or wet foods in to reward them with at each visit.
For your cat's comfort, we strive to get cats into an exam room and out of the lobby as fast as possible. This is why it is important for you to follow your appointment time as accurately as possible.
Pheromones and Sedation
Additional pheromones are used in the exam rooms and throughout the clinic for your pets comfort. We often will spray the exam rooms in expectation of cats and we utilize them in the cat ward for hospitalized patient security and well being.
These pheromones are non-scented and humans often cannot detect the smells. While dogs can recognize the cat pheromone, they do not get the same calming benefit - they have their own!
Some cats are FRACTIOUS and despite all efforts in fear free handling and technique they may benefit from sedation prior to or during their visits. Remember, our goal is to accomplish handling and evaluation with the least amount of stress and risk to pet and handler possible. We have multiple options for sedation available and the level of sedation may depend on the appointment type and procedures. Please contact us for more information if you feel your cat may need additional considerations prior to the scheduled office visit.